Devices used for photobiomodulation of the brain—a comprehensive and systematic review

Filipa Fernandes*, Sofia Oliveira, Francisca Monteiro, Michael Gasik, Filipe S. Silva, Nuno Sousa, Óscar Carvalho, Susana O. Catarino*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

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A systematic review was conducted to determine the trends in devices and parameters used for brain photobiomodulation (PBM). The revised studies included clinical and cadaveric approaches, in which light stimuli were applied to the head and/or neck. PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science and Google Scholar databases were used for the systematic search. A total of 2133 records were screened, from which 97 were included in this review. The parameters that were extracted and analysed in each article were the device design, actuation area, actuation site, wavelength, mode of operation, power density, energy density, power output, energy per session and treatment time. To organize device information, 11 categories of devices were defined, according to their characteristics. The most used category of devices was laser handpieces, which relate to 21% of all devices, while 28% of the devices were not described. Studies for cognitive function and physiological characterisation are the most well defined ones and with more tangible results. There is a lack of consistency when reporting PBM studies, with several articles under defining the stimulation protocol, and a wide variety of parameters used for the same health conditions (e.g., Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease) resulting in positive outcomes. Standardization for the report of these studies is warranted, as well as sham-controlled comparative studies to determine which parameters have the greatest effect on PBM treatments for different neurological conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number53
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2024
MoE publication typeA2 Review article, Literature review, Systematic review


  • Brain stimulation
  • Light therapy
  • Neurological pathologies
  • Optical device
  • Photobiomodulation


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